A DevOps transformation can take a long time. I met with DevOps practitioners at a Fortune 500 company, and they told me that it had taken them two years to get to the DevOps level they are at now. They recalled the pain, trouble, and strife in trying to get multiple teams located across the U.S. with differing reporting structures, toolsets, and practices to work together on the same page.
The impetus for their DevOps transformation was a directive from management to release app updates more frequently than once a month - they wanted weekly rollouts at a minimum, and eventually releases even more frequently than that. The app at the center of this mandate is an app only in the conceptual sense from a business unit or user perspective. Technically this "app" is made up of 49 other apps that all work together to provide a seamless and single user experience.
The Pains of a DevOps Transformation Without Support
The management instruction seemed impossible to achieve given the complexity of the app architecture, geographical dispersion of teams, and separate management tiers who owned various numbers of these forty-nine apps. If this wasn't challenging enough, management did not provide funds for the transformation they were demanding. I was stunned by this. Not financing an effort like this is equivalent to a physical review with a doctor who provides council on losing weight, lowering blood pressure and what-have-you, before casually throwing out, "And stay away from dairy" just as you leave the office. Wait, what did you say? The door closes.
So at this Fortune 500 company, the executive management mandated changes, provided no funding for the changes and did not empower middle management to effect the changes. This unsupportive directive meant the company's DevOps journey would be the dichotomy of a grass roots movement. I must admit, I had not seen a plausible deniability approach to DevOps before.
This circumstance is not optimal to be sure, and the fact that the employees of this company succeeded is a testament to how gifted and driven for excellence they are. Still, I am struck by how uneducated or unaware of the IT manufacturing philosophy known as DevOps the executives at this company were.
Thinking About the Bigger Picture
Hey SVPs and CxOs, DevOps is to IT as Henry Ford's moving assembly line was to manufacturing. DevOps represents a different way of viewing and organizing IT. From a DevOps perspective, the end goal is a factory that produces apps. Right? If there are no apps then what's the point? A smartphone becomes a paperweight without apps. It is all about apps. Apps are the end in mind.
While participating in IT Revolution's DevOps Forum this year, a theme I picked up on is how many executives have lost their jobs and were replaced by DevOps aware management beneath them. If you are in upper management, knowing about DevOps may just save your job! Knowing about DevOps, funding and enabling its transformative effort, and recognizing it as an essential part of a Digital Transformation initiative will reap tremendous benefits to your organization and, according to studies, increase your revenues.